First Sunday of Advent

Come, Lord Jesus.
You who are the flesh of the Most High God,
you whose name sets the mountains trembling,
you before whom the heavenly host sing,
come. You are desperately needed.

Come, Lord Jesus.
Show us what we cannot imagine:
the full truth of our violence against one another,
the offensiveness of our callousness and lies,
our arrogance from which you hide your face.
Come quickly to bring us to repentance.

Come, Lord Jesus,
but do not come to our churches —
come to Ferguson and come to our streets
and let us find you there:
there in the flesh and voices of protestors
demanding that Black lives are sacred,
there in the revolution inciting
our collective conscience,
there in the resistance
to false peace.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, Lord Jesus,
quickly come. Our hearts are full
and we are tempted to seek easy comfort
rather than stepping into this work
and trusting you to meet us there.

Come, Lord Jesus.
We strive to wait for you
with the eyes of our hearts awake and daring
to see the sun covered in shadows and
the stars fleeing from heaven,
caring to see honestly
the extent of our injustice
and the need for a world upended.
With the eyes of our hearts wide awake
we wait for you to come and agitate us with hope:
hope that is an open wound not a weak salve,
hope that is a bitter bread to our stomachs,
hope that keeps us holding our breath,
hope that will not let us go
until we are changed.

Come, Lord Jesus.
We are awake.

Cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.

Thanks But

in her eyes
surely You saw too
the love and grief
commingled
the tears
mourning the past
the weary smile
loving the present

it’s bittersweet
this bit about giving thanks
although we have long
lists of blessings
equally long
are our lists of
grievances
not because
we are not grateful
but because we have lived

and can we live
without tears and loss
have we lived fully if we fail
to recognize this world’s
shortcomings
can we give thanks
while averting our eyes
from the wants and withouts
of each day, each relationship
the brokenness
the injustice
the death
the insult to dignity
the active undermining
of wellness and equality

so thanks, God, but
if I may echo
my grandmother’s
tears: this world of yours
is a few too many heartaches
for these ashes and dust

Monday Muse: Why Pause?

“Think before you speak.” Such a simple admonition to be mindful with our words is easier said than done — not merely because we are hasty or lack an attentive spirit, but because we’re not accustomed to thinking about our words at all. We’re accustomed to using our words.

That may not sound like a significant difference, but using our words is second-nature while thinking about our words is an infrequent exercise. When we learn new languages and new vocabulary, we pause to think about each word carefully — to intentionally relate the new words to our lives and to our existing vocabulary. When we use familiar words, on the other hand, they tend to unfold, flow, speak, write, type by unconscious processes; we don’t pause to. consider. every. word. in. every. sentence.

But imagine if you did pause, not only to think about what you’re trying to communicate, but to consider the words themselves as you use them. Imagine if you paused to consider the words you take for granted in your faith life: words of scripture, hymns, prayer, worship. Imagine the sacred encounter you might experience in such a pause.

My newest book, Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-Weary Christian, is a beautiful (if unexpected) devotional experience that invites you to think about words and, in doing so, to experience sacred pauses that refresh your faith.

+ Sacred Pause is for those whose faith has been running a little dry.

+ Sacred Pause is for those who enjoy creative spiritual practices.

+ Sacred Pause is for those who are seeking a Living Spirit amid dusty old Thee’s and Thou’s.

+ Sacred Pause is for those who have been hurt by the words of the church but still hope for a redeeming outlook on the religion they long to love.

+ Sacred Pause is for those who tweet during worship, post the occasional #SelfieSunday, and instagram liturgical art.

+ Sacred Pause is for those who love beautiful coffee table books. (That’s right, this devotional book is pretty enough for your living room table!)

+ Sacred Pause is for those who are inclined to treat themselves to a Christmas present. 😀

+ Sacred Pause is for lovers of words and lovers of liturgy (no matter high or low), for those who are convinced that it matters how we articulate our faith.

+ Sacred Pause is for preachers and church leaders interested in simple methods for enlivening worship.

+ Sacred Pause is for all and none of the above; it’s a deceptively light-hearted book with a deeply refreshing approach to faith.

Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-Weary Christian will be released from Paraclete Press in mid-December. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

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Sunday Prayer: Reign of Christ

Most holy God,
beautiful and reigning Christ,
ever-pursuing Shepherd,

You have claimed us — we are yours;
before you we have no other gods.
Set your fire on our tongues
and your righteousness in our hearts
so that we might give you the honor and praise you deserve.

At the gate of your glory and greatness, we pray:
for unfettered joy to catch us up in its wake,
for glad gratitude to outpour from joy,
for fellowship to follow gratitude.

We cannot enter your divine gate
without our sisters and brothers —
the sheep and the goats, the weak and the strong,
the wandering and the lost and the cast-out, all your flock.
Bring us together and bring us safely home.

At the gate of your grace, we pray:
bind the wounds of the injured and hold
accountable those who have been reckless;
strengthen those who rise up and cry out
until they may rest with the arrival of reconciliation.
While we praise you, we wait impatiently for justice.

At the gate of your goodness, we pray:
for solace to those in mourning,
for clear vision to those who worry,
for relief to those who are struggling and strained.

Scatter us wide
so we might see
that there is nothing between us,
no separations among us — only you.
At the gate of your glory, we pray:
hold us close and dwell with us.

We pray by the power of Christ,
Amen.

Cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.